Pink Honeysuckle

Pink Honeysuckle © DSchiel

California Honeysuckle, Hairy Honeysuckle
Lonicera hispidula

Description (Jepson,

  • Eudicotyledon
    • Eudicots are a major lineage of flowering plants; see family for general characteristics
  • Honeysuckle Family (Caprifoliaceae)
  • Deciduous to evergreen liana (a woody, rope-like vine)
  • Leaves and stems covered with hairs and glands
  • Leaves
    • Opposite, oblong to ovate
    • Upper leaf pairs fused around the stem
    • Become purple-tinged with summer-fall drought
  • Flowers
    • Inflorescence (flower arrangement) consists of paired clusters of white to pink flowers that form just beyond the fused terminal leaves
    • Tubular and 2-lipped
      • Lips about as long as the tube, curling back as the flower opens
      • Upper lip shallowly lobed with 4 fused petals
      • Lower lip with 1 petal
    • Both stamens (male flower parts) and pistil (female flower part) extend beyond the petal
    • Ovary inferior (below the attachment of other flower parts)
  • Fruit is a berry (a usually multi-seeded fruit with a fleshy ovary wall), initially green, turning bright red and translucent at maturity
  • Height to 20 ft.


  • Native to California
    • Grows in mixed evergreen forests and foothill woodlands, on slopes and along stream banks
    • See Calflora for statewide observations of this plant
  • Outside California, extends into southern Oregon
  • Grows at elevations to 3,600 ft.

Uses (San Mateo County Parks prohibits removal of any natural material)

  • Flowers attract hummingbirds and insects, especially bumblebees
  • Fruit eaten by birds
  • Native people used the hollow stems for pipe stems and used wood ashes to make a paste for tattooing
  • CAUTION – some sources indicate the fruit is edible but bitter, while others say the fruit is poisonous. Best to leave them for the birds!

Name Derivation

  • Lonicera (lon-IS-er-a) – named in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus in honor of Johann Lonitzer, a German herbalist and physician (1499-1569) and/or his son, Adam Lonitzer, a German herbalist, physician, and botanist (1528-1586)
  • hispidula (his-PID-yoo-la) – from the Latin for “little bristly hairs”
  • Honeysuckle – refers to the sweet nectar
Vines © DSchiel


  • Unlike the flowers of horticultural species, pink honeysuckle flowers are not fragrant
  • This species tends to be evergreen in a mild climate (Ladybird 2018)
  • Have you noticed California buckeyes with distorted trunks along the lower Sylvan trail? Most likely these were made by rope-like honeysuckle vines, wrapping around the trunks and persisting as the trees grew
  • Host to the fungus-like microorganism Phytophthora ramorum, which causes Sudden Oak Death (SOD)
    • At Edgewood, the 2 species known to be susceptible to SOD are coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia) and Pacific madrone saplings (Arbutus menziesii)
    • For a complete list of known hosts and host associates see USDA Risk Analysis for Phytophthora ramorum, pp.6-9

ID Tips

  • Young plants without flowers or fruit may be confused with creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos mollis)
    • Pink honeysuckle
      • Stems are green and very hairy
      • Leaves hairy
      • Upper leaves are fused
      • Usually evergreen at Edgewood
    • Creeping snowberry
      • Stems are reddish and usually not hairy
      • Leaves usually not hairy
      • Upper leaves are not fused
      • Winter deciduous
Leaf (L), Fused Leaves (M), Fruits (R) © DSchiel

At Edgewood

  • Common in riparian areas and woodlands
  • Flowers May – June

See General References

Specific References

Anderson, M.D. 2007. Lonicera hispidula. Fire Effects Information System. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 2018. Lonicera hispidula. Plant Database. University of Texas at Austin.

Vadheim, C. 2016. Plant of the month (October): Pink (hairy; purple; Western) honeysuckle – Lonicera hispidula. Mother Nature’s Backyard. Friends of Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve.

Wilson, B. 2012. Lonicera hispidula, California Honeysuckle. Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery.